Friday, August 7, 2009

The Dominant Eye and Golf...

One of the things that has helped me quite a bit recently is working with my dominant eye and how I position it in the golf swing. First, we need to understand how to find which eye is your dominant eye. Here's a Golf Magazine article explaining it, but I will talk about it as well (,28136,1565286,00.html)

To find your dominant eye, find an object in the distance and look through a hole to see it. In the top picture below, it shows a golfer looking at a golf ball in the distance thru what appears to be a paper tube.

Now, close one of your eyes. If you can still see the object in the distance, that is your dominant eye. If you cannot see the object in the distance, that is your non-dominant eye.

Most people's dominant eye is on the same side as their dominant arm, leg, etc. However, despite being right handed, I am left eye dominant. So is Jack Nicklaus.

I have contacts in the Optometry field and I've spoken to quite a few of optometrists and the general belief for them seems to be that those with 'opposite' dominant eyes (their dominant eye is opposite of their dominant arm) tend to aim too far to the right of the target (provide they are right handed. Lefties with opposite dominant eyes will likely aim too far left of the target). And of course, golfers with dominant eyes on the same side as their dominant arm are more likely to aim left of the intended target.

David Orr's putting research sort of backs this up. Here's a look at what his research shows how golfer's aim a putt from only 6 feet out.

Aim Left of the Target - 55%
Aim Right of the Target - 25%
Aim at the Target - 20%

So because most golfers' dominant eye is on the same side as their dominant arm, my logic is that Orr's studies confirm that the majority of golfers aim left of the intended target and that's probably due in part to what their dominant eye is.

I also think this is true with full shot swings as well. One of the things that has worked for me is to follow Nicklaus' lead of having the dominant eye behind the ball at address.

Where this little method of just turning the head slightly away from the target has helped me is on the downswing. Before I would often feel like I had to swing too far left and wound up coming outside-to-inside on the path. Now it has greatly helped me understand where my path needs to be.

IMPORTANT: You don't need to turn your head back at address if your dominant eye is your rear eye because the dominant eye will already be behind the ball at address.

This is highly recommended by Dr. Craig Farnsworth as well when it comes to putting. But I tried it and didn't have any success with it putting the ball so I stopped doing it. However, I think it's worth a shot if your lead eye is your dominant eye.

The other part of the dominant eye and the golf swing I believe actually has to do with the head and the pivot. I believe lead eye dominant golfers, like Nicklaus, tend to have big shoulder turns in the backswing. Rear eye dominant golfers tend to be a bit shorter with their shoulder turn.

Conversely, on the downswing the lead eye dominant golfer tends to keep the head still and looking at the ball well into the follow thru. Whereas the rear eye dominant golfer is more likely to get the head swiveling forward in the follow thru.

When I first got involved in the game as a kid, the number one rule in golf was to keep your head down. Jack Nicklaus was the prime example of this and it was usually followed with how Nicklaus' old teacher Jack Grout used to grab a hold of his hair while he swung so Jack would not take his eye off the ball. But knowing that Nicklaus was a lead eye dominant golfer, I believe he 'stays down' so long in the follow thru simply because that's the only way he could see the ball with his left dominant eye. The same applied to his longer backswing in a sense. Because his left eye was his dominant eye and was closer to the ball, he could take the backswing way, way back and have no issue simply seeing the ball.

Annika Sorenstam's head swivel thru impact and the follow thru was very different than Nicklaus'.

Sorenstam's head is clearly starting to swivel at impact (and probably started before impact) and has swiveled much more at about the same position in the follow thru as Nicklaus.

That doesn't mean her technique was bad or worse than Nicklaus'. It means that she is probably right eye dominant and since she can see the ball with ease with the head swiveling like that thru impact, there's no need for her to keep the head down.

Right now, my current thoughts are that lead eye dominant golfers probably will wind up with a better pivot in the backswing and rear eye dominant golfers will wind up with better pivots in the downswing mainly because of their ability to see the ball with the dominant eye.

Special Thanks to Jeff Mann over at for the pictures.



dietz said...

Hey Rich,
Its Dietz.... I've got the same thing as you. You wanna know whats funny is an instructor of mine would always tilt my head to my left side after i addressed the ball, telling me I had to keep my head square, but it really never felt right. Now that you bring up this topic it makes sense to me, and i will have to try it out..... thanks !!!

Unknown said...

Hi Rich, same here. I also found that using a center shafted no offset putter helps us immensely on the greens. The reason being since our lead I is dominant we have to look back to look at all that crazy alignment stuff that they have on offset putter these days. I know you support her with very little alignment aids and zero offset and I have gained at least five strokes a round . Give it a shot. I got mine from a guy named Dave Bell In Nebraska. I'd love to talk to you more about set up for a full swing because this I am still struggling with. Best, Ben